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Broad stuns New Zealand with early breakthroughs



Lunch New Zealand 278 and 124 for 4 (Latham 65*, Watling 15*) need another 258 runs to beat England 307 and 352 for 9 dec (Vince 76, Stoneman 60, Root 54, Malan 53, de Grandhomme 4-94)
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Stuart Broad set the tempo by striking with each of his first two balls of the fifth and final morning, as England took four huge strides towards securing a series-squaring victory in the second Test against New Zealand at Hagley Oval.

By lunch, New Zealand’s innings was floundering at 124 for 4, with all thoughts of chasing down an improbable target of 382 now firmly shelved. Tom Latham, with 65 not out, continued his fluent obduracy at the top of the order, but too many of his team-mates came and went meekly, as England closed in on what would be their first overseas Test win since October 2016.

Most culpable of the lot was Latham’s opening partner, Jeet Raval, who had been so steadfast during New Zealand’s dour rearguard on the fourth evening. However, facing up to Broad’s opening delivery of the final day, Raval’s eyes lit up at the sight of a juicy leg-stump half-volley, and he lost his shape entirely in clipping a head-high chance to Mark Stoneman at midwicket.

Far worse was to follow for New Zealand one ball later. Kane Williamson, their captain and star batsman, was done in by a beauty from Broad, a perfect off-stump lifter that cramped him for room as he was drawn to meet the line and grazed a blameless edge through to Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps. Williamson was gone for the first golden duck of his Test career, and New Zealand were suddenly in the mire at 42 for 2.

Ross Taylor survived the hat-trick ball, and was also dropped on 6 as James Vince dived low to his left at third slip but couldn’t cling on to another Broad splice-rattler. But the early introduction of the left-arm spin of Jack Leach ended his stay before long. He was caught at short backward square on the sweep for 13 – a curious dismissal, given that the man had only moments been brought into position for that very stroke. Leach cared not for the circumstances though. Taylor’s scalp made for a very memorable maiden Test wicket.

James Anderson, restricted to just two overs at the start of the day as Joe Root rang the changes with the older ball, then returned to the attack to sucker Henry Nicholls on the drive, also for 13. It was the classic Anderson set-up, pushing his man back into the crease then drawing him forward with a fuller-length outswinger, for Alastair Cook at first slip to swallow a comfortable edge.

Latham endured for New Zealand, bringing up his fifty with a well-timed sweep for four off Leach, and finding a steadfast ally in BJ Watling, who was 15 not out at the break. But with Leach finding some purchase outside the left-hander’s off stump, and Mark Wood once again working up a good head of steam in a four-over burst before the break, England were the side very much in the ascendancy.

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Crisis in South Africa – No clarity on task team details after CSA-SASCOC meeting



The details of the task team that will look into Cricket South Africa’s administrative and financial affairs remain a mystery despite CSA meeting with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) on Monday evening.

The meeting took place four days after SASCOC instructed CSA’s board and executive to stand down after nine months of what SASCOC called “maladministration and malpractice,” which demanded the mother body’s intervention.

SASCOC is a legislatively-created body under which all South African sports federations operate. It wrote to the ICC at the weekend to clarify that its involvement in CSA does not constitute government interference.

SASCOC has stressed that it hopes to work with CSA’s Members’ Council – the body made up of the 14 provincial presidents which holds the highest decision-making authority in CSA – despite the Members’ Council opting out of a meeting with SASCOC last Friday. Instead, CSA held a joint sitting of the Board and Members’ Council at the weekend and met SASCOC on Monday.

CSA called the meeting “a step forward towards a collaborative approach in the interest of good governance and executive operations.” SASCOC was unavailable for comment. Any hope of obtaining further detail was stymied the three representatives from the CSA members’ council were due to address the media on Tuesday but the briefing has been pushed back to Thursday, and is scheduled to be a joint affair with SASCOC.

It is still not clear whether the task team will be finalised by then, even though SASCOC told ESPNcricinfo on Friday that they would announce the members of the task team imminently. The task team is crucial because it could decide who is in charge of cricket in South Africa until such time as SASCOC’s inquiry into CSA is complete. SASCOC had initially budgeted a period of one month to complete its investigations.

In the meanwhile, CSA’s forensic report, which it used to dismiss former CEO Thabang Moroe, has still not been made fully available to the Members’ Council who saw a high-level summary at the weekend. SASCOC and South Africa’s sports ministry have also demanded to see the report in full, and SASCOC have rejected CSA’s invitation to view the report after signing a non-disclosure agreement, believing the report should be made public.

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England v Australia 2020, 3rd ODI, Fantasy Pick, team predictions



England v Australia, 3rd ODI, Manchester

Our XI: Jonny Bairstow, David Warner, Jos Buttler, Sam Billings, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Chris Woakes, Josh Hazlewood, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Adam Zampa

Substitutes: Steven Smith, Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan, Aaron Finch

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so keep an eye on team news at the toss before making your final picks.

Captain: Adam Zampa
It’s moderately risky to select a bowler as a captain in an ODI, just in case he takes no wickets, but Zampa’s form in the ODI series merits it a risk worth taking. He has taken seven wickets in two matches, including a four-for, and he is Australia’s No. 1 attacking option with the ball. His strike rate of 17.1 in the series at an average of 13 makes him an attractive pick. There have been no standout batsman in the series so far, so why not go with the standout bowler?

Vice-captain: Jofra Archer
Two three-wicket hauls in two games, including a Player-of-the-Match performance in the second ODI, makes Archer a very reliable pick when there isn’t a proper, consistent batsman to look at. He’s England’s highest wicket-taker this series, bowls with the new ball and at the death, which are periods where you can fetch plenty of wickets.

Hot picks

David Warner: For a man who averaged 71.89 at the 2019 ODI World Cup held in England, it’s only a matter of time that the Australia opener will come good. He’s got single-digit scores in the first two ODIs, and considering the law of averages, you’d like to have him around when he gets a big one. If he can get past the new-ball spell from Archer, who has dismissed him seven times in ten ODIs, Warner could get lots of runs.

Glenn Maxwell: Maxwell’s aggressive 77 in the first ODI showed why he’s such a good white-ball cricketer. He bats in the middle overs when fewer wickets typically fall. Plus points with his offspin.

Jonny Bairstow: An 84 in the first ODI showed how well Bairstow can adjust to difficult batting conditions. We’re ignoring the duck in the second ODI, and if you have to select just one England opener, he is more reliable than Jason Roy.

Value picks

Marnus Labuschagne: Bats at No. 4 for Australia, which is perfect to anchor the innings. Labuschagne has averaged 34.50 in the series, and will look to end on a high. His handy wristspin could also come into play if Australia captain Aaron Finch notices turn for his regular spinners.

Sam Billings: The only centurion in the ODI series will be looking to put in another performance that gives him the headlines, especially since he’s always battling for a permanent spot in the XI. His 118 in the first ODI showed how well he plays both pace and spin.

Point to note

  • Steven Smith was injured and didn’t play the first two ODIs. If he is fit, you should definitely consider him in the XI. For now, we’ve kept in the substitutes.

  • If the pitch report on ESPNcricinfo’s commentary section on match day suggests it will be a belter, then you can switch out the aggressive captaincy choice of Zampa for a top-order batsman, or get in an extra batsman like Finch or Joe Root instead of a bowler in the XI.

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Cricket and Covid-19 – England players cannot be exempt from ECB cuts, says Chris Woakes



Chris Woakes has admitted that the England team cannot be “exempt” from the cost-cutting measures that the ECB have been forced to implement, after extending his sympathies to the 62 board employees who have lost their jobs due to the financial impact of the the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, speaking on the eve of the final international fixture of the summer, Woakes added it was too soon to speculate on how the pandemic would impact on the next round of ECB central contracts, which are up for renewal at the start of October.

Instead, he reiterated just how important it had been that West Indies, Ireland, Pakistan and Australia all agreed to tour to prevent the board’s financial losses from being even worse.

ALSO READ: ECB announce 62 job cuts as Covid realities hit home

“It’s incredibly sad news, really,” Woakes said, after it was confirmed that the ECB would be reducing its workforce by 20 percent, in a bid to mitigate projected losses of £200 million if Covid continues to disrupt the sport in 2021.

“There’s a lot of people behind the scenes at the ECB who work incredibly hard, important cogs in the wheel,” Woakes added. “In the current climate, these sort of things are bound to happen in cricket, and in all sports around the world.

“Of course it’s a sad time, and it does resonate with the players, but we’re also very fortunate that cricket has gone ahead this summer, [because] that figure of £200 million could have been a lot worse. I suppose that is the only positive outcome, really.

Victory over Australia in the third and final ODI would complete England’s unbeaten record in international series across formats this summer, and defend a perfect record in bilateral ODI series at home that dates back to 2015 and the start of their emergence as a force in white-ball cricket.

But more importantly, the mere fact that the fixture is taking place means that England’s men will have completed their full roster of 18 international fixtures for 2020, an achievement that seemed unthinkable back in April, when the ECB projected worst-case losses of £380 million if the full season had been wiped out.

“The fact that we actually got some cricket on this summer is just a bonus,” Woakes said. “At one point it didn’t look like there’d be a ball bowled, so credit to everyone who made that happen.”

West Indies and Pakistan, in particular, went to extreme lengths to make the Test leg of the summer, happen, with each team spending two months in lockdown to complete series that were worth in excess of £120 million to the ECB’s coffers. Ireland and Australia’s visits have been less extreme, but undeniably valuable in the current climate.

“We thank them greatly, really,” Woakes said. “They took the effort to come across when no-one really knew what cricket was going to look like in a bubble. We’re really thankful because getting cricket on our shores has been really important.”

But the England players themselves have had to play their part in arduous circumstances. Speaking on Monday, Jofra Archer told of the mental toll that life in the England bubble had taken on him, after 87 days in the bio-secure environment, the longest of any of the players. And Woakes agreed that it had been a challenge over and above the usual touring lifestyle.

“There’s been times when it’s been brilliant, particularly when you are performing well and we’re winning. And there’s times when it’s not gone quite so well, and when you have a bad day, it’s hard to get away from. You’re constantly looking at the pitch, which can be tough at times, and you’re obviously away from friends and family, which also makes it hard.

“So there’s definitely periods where you wish you could get away from the game and get back home and see friends and family, but I think we’ve all stuck to the task really well. It’d be nice for us to finish on a high, but I think everyone has done a great job.”

In ordinary circumstances, such over-and-above efforts might qualify England’s players for hardship bonuses, rather than the prospect of pay cuts. But, with the Team England Player Partnership group beginning their negotiations for 2020-21, and with the top multi-format men’s players earning close to £1 million before bonuses, Woakes was realistic about the prospect of further financial sacrifice.

ALSO READ: Covid resurgence could leave global game ‘in crisis’, says new ECB chairman

“It is a situation where we have to sit down as players and see what happens with regards to these contracts coming up,” he said. “We’ll know more in the next few weeks. We’ll reassess at that point.

“At this moment of time, it is hard for me to say ‘we’re going to take X cuts, and there are going to be donations here, left right and centre’. Until we’ve seen what happens from above we’ll then get more of a feel for it. I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.”

As Woakes pointed out, the England players have already made a voluntary contribution to the cause, donating a combined sum of £500,000 back in April when the pandemic’s impact was first felt.

“That hasn’t really been discussed since and we haven’t been spoken to by the hierarchy of the ECB,” he added. “In the current climate, with contracts around the corner, you have to expect anything. We have to wait and see. as players, you can’t say we’re exempt from it.”

In the meantime, however, there’s a series to be won on the field against Australia.

“The environment that we’re in certainly has had its tough times,” Woakes said. “But the team has pulled together and played some really good cricket, and that’s obviously the most important thing for us when we’re out there, performing as well as we can. And we’ve certainly done that, which has been brilliant.”

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